pho·​bia | \ ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce phobia (audio) \

Definition of phobia

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation

Definition of -phobia (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : exaggerated fear of acrophobia
2 : intolerance or aversion for photophobia

Examples of phobia in a Sentence

Noun His fear of crowds eventually developed into a phobia.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The famed Hollywood costume designer Edith Head suffered from a severe phobia of frogs. Pat Myers, Washington Post, 14 July 2022 For someone who was once afraid of flying, Danny Ramirez sure picks projects that force him to push through his phobia on screen. Brett Williams, Men's Health, 17 May 2022 Since then, her phobia has put her in some mortifying situations. Los Angeles Times, 27 Apr. 2022 But the move is causing a mixed reaction among workers: some are happier and more productive with their furry animals by their side, while others are annoyed or have quit their jobs due to allergies or a phobia. Washington Post, 24 Sep. 2021 These are hallmarks of social anxiety, a phobia of being judged, negatively evaluated or rejected in a social or performance situation, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America. Kristen Rogers, CNN, 1 Apr. 2022 Conquering a decades-long phobia of plane travel, Nicky is shown digging even deeper to flirt with a beautiful, high-spirited flight attendant before takeoff. Pamela Rafalow Grossman, Essence, 16 Mar. 2022 The phobia affects hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone. Jennifer Billock, Good Housekeeping, 20 Jan. 2022 For Anna, that meant a devastating backstory (the likes of which won't be revealed here to avoid spoiling the fun) and a debilitating phobia — in this case, ombrophobia, or a fear of the rain. Lauren Huff,, 28 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'phobia.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of phobia


1786, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for phobia



Noun combining form

New Latin, from Late Latin, from Greek, from -phobos fearing, from phobos fear, flight, from phebesthai to flee; akin to Lithuanian bėgti to flee, Old Church Slavonic běžati

Learn More About phobia

Dictionary Entries Near phobia




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for phobia

Last Updated

29 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Phobia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for phobia


pho·​bia | \ ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce phobia (audio) \

Kids Definition of phobia

: an unreasonable, abnormal, and lasting fear of something


pho·​bia | \ ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce phobia (audio) \

Medical Definition of phobia

: an exaggerated and often disabling fear usually inexplicable to the subject and having sometimes a logical but usually an illogical or symbolic object, class of objects, or situation — compare compulsion, obsession


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!